Friday, April 29, 2011

until we meet again, nepal

eve of my leaving, all the loose ends done up in regular parks' family fashion (shout out). 

shipping shipped, bag packed and a bus ride to the border.  i can't believe it but i have spent about four months here and it has come to end.  challenges, beauty, ugliness, misfortune, many things from such a small country.

so feri bhetaula, nepal.  thanks for the experiences and surprises, and i shall see you again.

tomorrow, a 10 hr bus to the border. 
the next day, a 20 hr train. 
kolkata, here i come. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

nepali easter: intestines make a wonderful necklace

the last couple days i have been wandering around taking in the town.  the wood and stone carvings are quite beautiful, and appear in the temples, as well as windows and doors of houses.

bhaktapur just had a festival a few days before me coming, so the remains of that were scattered around the temples.  while walking around, i came across a celebration to the god kali.  god of death and wife to shiva, she is one of the most demanding of the hindu gods and requires sacrifice.   quite a spectacle of blood on what was easter.

loveliest wooden window

Saturday, April 23, 2011

what a difference 20 km makes

took a couple days to recoup after lumbini and the 9 hour bus ride/escape.  began the longish process of getting my indian visa, and worked on how i am going to head there.

so now in bhaktapur, and all the happier for it:

a lovely medieval town and former capital, this gem of a place and its relaxed atmosphere has won me over.  i arrived here two days ago, a room at the ganesh guest house.  one of the best guest houses and owners ever-seriously.  A six room intimate place, with a lovely welcoming family and one character of an owner.

i dropped my bags and headed out to see the sunset, but not before a dinner invite.  bhaktapur is a special place, with several squares and meandering streets and alleyways.  on the tourist route, but as a day trip, early mornings and sunsets are quiet of tourist groups and empties out.

i roamed around, falling into random chats with local people that didn't seem to be attempting a soft sale.  as seven rolled around,  headed back for dinner.

unexpected.  drinks food and great company makes for a great night.  the two other guests, vento and anna from veince were on a two year travel.  stories and experiences were shared, great food and too much of the local spirit.  deebesh, the owner was a fantastic story teller.  he regaled us with his experiences, of all places, japan.  

the next day was a long slow wake, breakfast with the italians and then an amble through the town.  women gathering water from one of the many communal wells, porters moving goods between shops, children headed to school, the various temples and the grandfolks that stopped to pray, street food vendors, men gambling, women drying their hair-atmosphere.  this is one of those differences that i appreciate-life lived in public space.  maybe not unlike lawrenceville when my dad grew up, but now most of these activities have moved to the inside of the house. 

so bhaktapur has impressed me, and lucky i am to have another day or so here.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

sweat and mozzie rag/buddha jayanti


iron maiden of mozzies

I want to write something positive.  really i do.  but as i drink my water, and watch it simultaneously empty out through my pores, i find it quite difficult.  and last nights losing battle with what were probable malarial mosquitoes has me bitten and tired.  slept in 15 minute start-stops as the mosquitoes did not relent until sunrise.  and truly, i need a long cool tall drink and a seat poolside somewhere next.

water so scarce it doesn't focus

so my rant: this place is a furnace and a poorly thought out shrine to one of the greatest humans that have ever lived.  such a shame.  so much money (foreign) has poured in here, into the memorial.  but none of it has seemed to trickle down to the regular folk (a surprise, i am sure, knowing how the world works where you live). also, it appears to me after walking around the *park*, that unity of form and design were never even considered. 

in their own words

lumbini is the birthplace of the buddha.  through excavation, archaeologists have determined that this particular place, in fact, an exact spot.  so a shrine was erected, and all the buddhist countries of the world decided to make a huge, confusing, carelessly planned buddhaworld out of it.  its a massive complex with too-spaced out buddhist temples in the style of whichever country represented.

there were some standouts, architecturally.  the three i liked the most were the chinese, vietnamese (not totally completed) and the thai.  these three were tastfully constructed, and were a joy to walk through, this early morning (heat had me up at 5am!).  i am also sure that i would have apprecisated the japanese temple, but unfortunately i couldn't find it and gave up in search of a cold water. 

the rest were tacky concrete monstrousities.  i took very few pictures, unfortunately today, as the weather was cloudy.  and the ones i took are pretty crappy.  and photography was quite restricted.

sweets, my sweat

but this has been an interesting view of nepal as well.  lumbini is south, maybe 50 km from the border of india.  so this place, more so than any of the others, has a very indian feel.  most people are ethnically indian.


so today was a festival:

Buddha Jayanti (Vesak)
Buddha Jayanti (the Full moon day in May) is one of the greatest festivals in Buddhist Religious Calendar. The day is celebrated to commemorate the three major events in Buddha’s life – His birth (in Lumbini, Nepal in 623 BC); his enlightenment (Buddhatto) at the age of 35 years (in Buddha Gaya, India) and his passing away (Maha parinirvana) at the age of 80 years (in Kusinagar, India.)

all the colors of the womens' saris, the scent of sweat and inscense and indian-styled sweets on sale with thousands of gallons of milk tea, it had the overcrowded feel of india. 

and there was an amazing looking carni-show, but alas i gave it a miss, as the crowds made me claustrophobic.  so it has been interesting, but the heat and the load shedding has made me a grump.

so i sit, now contempating what i have expereinced these last two days as the sunsets and a cool breeze starts to cool.  minutes away from the onslaught of malerial mosquitos...did i fail to mention the mosquitos?


04.17.2011: roasting in buddhaland

so i write this, sweating more than climbing mountains, in the town of lumbini.  lumbini, a place of pilgrimage for buddhists from all over the world as it is the birthplace of siddhartha, the buddha. 

here i am, 942pm,  a sultry 100+ degree night.  this has all the potential hallmarks of a bad decision.  an over-extended bus ride of 8 hours, a tired guest house, a town that has a 17 hour blackout everyday and the transition from pokhara, lakeside wonderland to the sauna i now find myself in. 

but, in making a pilgrimage, one is meant to suffer a bit, no?  and the short vignettes that have played out in the short time that i have been here have, regardless of the amount of water that i am losing out of my skin, made me rethink my first reaction to the place (how i wanted, immediately upon arrival) to take that same bus ride all the way back to pokhara and call it a day).  but luck, as it does, has shines bright on my meeting of people.  had a nice chat with a nice older japanese woman, breaking out my rusty nihongo and having a go.  she recalled tales of nepal in the 80's, and her experience as a not-quite japanese hippie.

and the sweet younger and surprising chinese couple. the girl giving me a list of underground chinese films that i must see and the guy, the owner of a secret guest house in lhasa.  then of course, my haste in judging the well worn guest house erased as a lovely chat with three generations of the family that owned it reminded me that while ac is nice, its worth trading a bit of comfort for an exchange of communication with people that are so different from yourself. 

and buoying my positive outlook is the three minutes i am away from having light and a fan.  simple things in life, isn't it? 

so tomorrow i get to span space and visit temples from many of the buddhist countries of the world, in all their origin-styled splendor.  i do sense kitsch, but maybe if i hold to this positive, i can overcome it.

hurray for fans.

Friday, April 15, 2011

drinking with the dancing queens

no photos, unfortunately.

felt the urge for a pint and a mix in company, so i headed to the pokhara dive that i found so comfortable the first time through town-the old blues bar. 

met a semi-doppelganger there, a funny ozzie that was two weeks stuck in nepali scotch and hashish.  same age, common ground and a gouty foot to boot.  he led me into an evening of matched word and drink, culminating in a drink/smoke with the daughters of abba. 

yeah, abba.  two elfin girls just back from a trek.  quite down-to-earth, had a great chat.  but still on trekking time, i left a bit too early, but a nice random night none-the-less. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

fork in the road

 woke up at my own speed and time today.  quiet guest houses can feel your own when no one else is around.  this and the pot of coffee and breakfast has me feeling recovered. 

i sit now, 12pm, wondering just what to do with myself.  too late to go for a decent walk, and as i spent about 3 hours getting those video uploaded yesterday, i don't want to be sitting in a cafe.  so today is an inhouse day.  so more coffee, my music and the option of reading or writing. 

my door opens onto the garden, and the roof, when clear, allows an amazing view of the lake and mountains.  it was clear for an hour, so i now see the cold rock, from this warmer distance.  this i can get used to, for the day.

so i sit here, and the thought/decision of the day is 'which way to home, the high road or the low road.  today, the arbitrarily assigned deadline.  the low road has me flying in a few weeks to istanbul to the beginning of reconnecting with old friends, and the beginning of the more familiar; closer to home.  the high road has me after the few remaining weeks here overlanding it to india for a few months at a yoga institute:

so i am in quandary.  this trip's goal is readjustment and transition-to undo whatever damage i have done to my id/ego/superego/person with my saudi hermit-like existence.  as i have been giving this a thought since i got the response from the yoga institute, all during the last two walks.  now the time to choose has come.  path-plan-purpose at the fork of options.  

so i have weighted it all up, over the days of walking and the input of others, and have decided that it shall be the high road.  more work to be done, as this trekking has truly only been the beginning.  i feel lighter now, in spirit and health.  i have made it, some great distance, away from saudi.  but i have come to the conclusion that when i land home, it should be on two legs that can support that transition.  and what better to support, but yoga feet?  new agey possibly.  but i can recall the time period in university that i was doing yoga regularly, and it seemed to center me during a very turbulent time, of unsettled youth.

so unsettled adult?  i am, in a process, of eventual, attempted settling. i feel that the old medicines, the ones that affect, should be recalled and re-instituted.  i have been dipping back into the past, in many ways, to make anew.  some of the timings, the rhythms, have been a bit off.  but with a bit of tweaking, and practice, i am beginning to see myself in the mirror.

i figure two months at least, the repetition of a daily practice, will become a long habit.  should be difficult to shake, even with the coming distractions.  is it?

so i am sorry to say, it will be a bit longer till i see all of you.  but so may i land in pittsburgh, tadasana, two yoga feet, not one gouted one!  all the better to see you with.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

april 4 - 12 abc trek: a different walk

so here i am.

made it, safe and sound.  feeling quite positive, completing my third trek, and the fact each of them had a different flavor. 

this time i had the first three days alone.  these days were some of my favorite.  pace, my own.  stopping, at my whim.  it really relaxed me, having not to negotiate with others.  a freedom that ended with the meeting of others.  i enjoyed the relating and walking, but i think that the walk alone really spoke to me, and someday in the near future i plan to extend that time.

so, after a few days of walking on my own, i came to a branch in the road.  one way, a nice flat walk, the other, straight up.  thinking that up could be the only answer, i began.  wrong.  i stood, waiting for someone to come along to ask, as i did not want to lose the elevation that i had just gained.  after only 20 minutes, a group of porters came through and pointed me right.

because of this, i met the first to join me.  shlogo, a young israeli on his after-service travel.  a very nice guy, with many insights into israeli culture, and a bit of a different take.  and just to get this out of the way:  i kept pace, old 39-me. ha.

the next to join were barbra, a dutch girl from goa and fran, british.  both were good fun, and so we all ended up finishing the walk together.  and i get to use some of their photos, as i made a point to be less behind the lens for this experience.  and besides, i didn't want to carry the camera.


lodge life

break joy

who me, hobbit?

zen rock snow garden

staring down a past fury

what i look like walking

khem and shlogo


panarific 1

panarific 2

don't look at the hand, rather, the boot.

pre-hot spring

just reward: hot spring

the ladies

mutton birani?  or just cute?


at the end


hello for now